Highpointing: Selene Point, the Moon
April 1, 2019
Welcome to the April Fools Day episode that turned into something much bigger. This episode all started with a throwaway line in a top ten episode I am working on for a later date. I liked the idea so much I thought it would be a nice little April First episode. The “joke” being why limit yourself to just the US or the world. There was also an ulterior motive as well. My son is really into space and the solar system these days so I wanted to make something he would enjoy.
It is a bit of an understatement to say this became something much bigger than intended. What ended up being produced and published is only a small part of a much larger script still being written. The original plan was to do a cursory overview of the entire solar system with a quick stop at each planet, or the moon with highest point in the case of the gas giants.
This idea quickly unraveled. To state the obvious, the solar system is a fascinating place with a lot of mysteries. Even limiting the scope of the episode to the individual mountains/ highest points on them became a challenge because of the diversity of both the peaks and planets so instead I opted to not limit myself and just write where the research took me keeping in mind the original intent.
Knowing I had to get something out for April Fools Day it dawned on me I could make an intro episode focused on the Moon that could stand alone but also set up the remainder of the spinoff if I wanted to continue with it. Of course that bit of “genius” did not flash in my brain until after 25 pages of script had already been hammered out.
There were several key elements that really allowed this episode to take a step above being a “joke.” There were a few key elements that really gave it some decent production value. The first is the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the 3D map of the moon. This tool provided a bunch of the moon “location” shots and also those cool sweeping angles. (It is a fascinating tool, I would often find myself playing around with it looking at all sorts lunar features. Go check it out; it is awesome!)
The second was Space Engine, described as a realistic virtual universe based on scientific principles and data. It also allowed location shots but more importantly provided a way to generate a spaceship, (the starship Highpointer,) and to get the exterior spaceship shots while in transit. (Space Engine is a cool game currently in beta though soon to be released on Steam. Go check it out as well!)
The final element that helped this episode go beyond was the NASA Image and Video Library. This was another great resource that provided the video footage from NASA of the Delta Heavy launch and the Apollo missions as well. It is clear that the NASA and the other space agencies of the world’s archives are going to be critical in producing the remainder of this spinoff series.
For this episode’s score I wanted to indulge a bit in the cinematic and epic. Music came from a variety of sources to include Bensound, FilmMusic, and series standby incompetch. The pieces chosen helped capture that space opera feel I wanted.
Overall I enjoyed the challenge of writing, filming, and producing this episode. It was quite the learning experience though out the whole process and allowed me to be creative in a different venue. For those that enjoyed this detour you can expect more of Rooftops of the Solar System in the future. At present the script is coming in at 37 pages and growing with at least five more episodes to cover it all. Expect to see this spinoff premiere between season 5 and season 6 of Rooftops of America.
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